Tuesday 20 August 2019

Easter massacre in Sri Lanka: Here's what we know so far

An elderly woman is helped near St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)
An elderly woman is helped near St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Jemma Crew and David Hughes

Nearly 300 people, including five Britons, have died after a series of bombings in Sri Lanka.

Here is what we know so far:

- Six nearly simultaneous explosions at three churches and three hotels took place at Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa on Easter Sunday.

- In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions.

- Other blasts were reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

- Three police officers were killed when they went to question suspects following a tip.

Relatives gather outside a hospital in Colombo (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)
Relatives gather outside a hospital in Colombo (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

- There were two further explosions later at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass at Dematagoda on the outskirts of Colombo.

- Sri Lankan officials have described it as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. Most of the eight blasts are suspected suicide attacks.

- Police will examine reports that the intelligence community failed to detect or warn of possible suicide attacks as part of their investigation.

- Five Britons, including two people holding joint US and British nationalities, are among the 290 people dead.

Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka Liyanawatte
Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka Liyanawatte

- Among the Britons feared dead are Anita Nicholson, 42, and her 11-year-old son Alex.

- There are also US, Turkish, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese victims among the 27 foreign nationals killed.

- More than 500 people have been injured.

- Thirteen suspects have been arrested, according to officials. No-one has taken responsibility for the massacre.

- Sri Lankan authorities blocked access to many social media services in the wake of the attack, with Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp all affected.

- A nationwide curfew was imposed from 6pm to 6am and has since been lifted.

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